Great news! The National Science Foundation is funding a proposal by Tom Miller, Sarah Bengston, and myself to determine how extreme flooding associated with Hurricane Harvey in August 2017 affected the abundance and community composition of ants in the Big Thicket region of east Texas. This region hosts dozens of native ant species that provide valuable ecosystem services, such as decomposition and pest control, as well as noxious invasive species (fire ants and tawny crazy ants).
The ultimate goals of the project are to understand how extreme events like catastrophic floods influence the abundance of plants and animals, including species that affect human well-being such as pollinators or invasive pests. To do this, we will use “before” and “after” samples to test the hypothesis that Hurricane Harvey disrupted east Texas ant communities, favoring an increase in abundance and extent of invasive ants.